Local pole bender shines at national event | TheUnion.com

Local pole bender shines at national event

California state champion pole bender Emma Jones with her horse Cowboy twinkle at the National Rodeo competition in Rock Springs, Wyo.
Cathy Johnston/courtesy photo |

Heading into the National High School Rodeo Championships in Rock Springs, Wyo., local pole bender Emma Jones said she just wanted to represent her district proudly.

“I think I did that,” Jones said. “I had a couple of my best runs ever and did things that I didn’t know I could. California did a little better in the standings than usual, and District 3 had a strong showing.”

Jones, who advanced to the July 14-20 national competition after winning the California state title in June, set the tone for a run at the national championship early.

Jones, 16, set personal bests in her first two gos (rounds). In the first go, Jones weaved her way to a personal best time of 20.488 seconds, then improved upon that in the second go with a time of 20.272 seconds.

“I watched other kids go and finish a full second faster than my (previous) best times, and I thought there was no way,” she said. “But then after my first go, I got the time of 20.488 I was like, ‘OK, I can do this.’”

Jones’ runs were impressive and necessary in that only the top 20 riders out of 167 in the competition advanced to the third and final go.

Those who made it to the final go were separated from the rest of the competitors by only hundredths of a second.

Heading into the final go, Jones said she had her sights set on finishing in the top 10.

Down to the best 20 high school pole benders, Jones’ third go wasn’t as successful as her first two as she hit a pole, giving her a five second penalty and putting her out of contention to place.

“I had a pretty good feeling I had hit it,” she said. “It was one of those moments where there is nothing you can do. It was pretty devastating. It got away from me a little bit. I got a little too caught up in going fast.”

When all was said and done, Jones finished 20th out of 167 of the best high school pole benders from across the nation.

“People always say to put your all into it,” Jones said. “But sometimes that’s hard to do when a win isn’t guaranteed. But if I didn’t put my all into it, I never would have known what I could do.”

Jones said the experience was amazing, and that she will strive to make nationals next year. She also gave a lot of the credit for her strong performance to her horse, Cowboy Twinkle.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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